“Home Truths” is the debut album from North-West England based Robert Lloyd. His brother Alun plays bass and also had a hand in arranging the tracks. Predominantly acoustic, this record features a collection of well-crafted and intelligent commentaries on the human condition, reminiscent of Morrissey or Jarvis Cocker.
Robert Lloyd is one of the most unique and interesting artists I have listened to in quite a while. The two key elements that make him stand out from the crowd are his song-writing and vocal delivery. Pick any track at random from this album and you’ll hear words and rhyming couplets that you just never thought you’d hear put together in a song. I won’t spoil it by giving you examples here – just listen. If you read them off the page you might think he had ‘swallowed a dictionary’ (as we used to say about people smarter than us when we were kids) or was being pretentious; but it is his style. It feels natural and just works. I love a bit of lyrically shallow rock n roll (Legs/Tush, “ZZ Top” anyone?) as much as the next guy – but a tune about how a couple’s expectations going into a relationship (influenced by unrealistic cultural mores) have made it unsatisfying – occasionally demands a few fancy multi-sylabbic words.
All these fancy words also necessitate a semi-spoken, almost conversational cadence – which Robert unapologetically delivers in his native, broad Lancastrian (a Northen English regional) accent. This is actually quite difficult to pull off – and is even avoided by many artists, who intentionally or otherwise, default to a generic North American accent. Robert’s accented delivery injects an element of honesty and integrity that works perfectly with the material.
Home Truths is a collection of songs that tackle romantic relationships. In such well-trodden ground it is refreshing that none of the tracks are predictable, trite or cliched. Rather, they look at getting together , staying together or breaking-up from some new and interesting angles. Because of Robert’s transparancy, never flinching from admitting his own weaknesses, the songs sometimes seem to come from a place of insecurity. But I don’t read them this way; instead I think that he looks at relationships in a more philosophical/detached way than most.
Musically, there are a host of detectable influences. I have already mentioned Morrissey and Jarvis Cocker, but there are also distinct shades of Lennon/McCartney and Noel Gallagher, amongst others. Perhaps predominantly a blend of folksy singer-songwriters and 90′s Britpop.
The only other review I have read of this album suggested that the tracks were too eclectic for one disc, perhaps requiring separate acoustic and electric records. I disagree. I think the songs work well together musically and thematically. In my opinion, the main weakness of ‘Home Truths’ is that Robert and Alun were unable to match their vision for the songs with the instrumentation/production they would need to fulfill that vision. There are songs that work well as stripped back acoustic numbers (‘Sailed Away’, ‘Where Did You Go?’) and others where the electric parts fit just right ( ‘What Did You Notice?’). However, you can feel the large, multi-layered, soundscapes imagined for some tracks (‘Melt The Ice’, ‘Keep Your Reciept’) which only a professional production could achieve. This isn’t an issue of ability, therefore, just a surplus of ambition! Hopefully, Robert’s musical career will provide him with the opportunities to create tracks as he imagines them in the future.
Overall, ‘Home Truths’ is highly recommended, particularly if you like your music intelligent, quirky and honest. Robert is definitely an artist to watch out for.
Category: CD Reviews